The Nigerian Army has temporarily relocated the tactical headquarters of its 14 Brigade headquarters from Ohafia to Aba in a bid to curb the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The Commanding Officer, 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Brig. Gen. Lawrence Fejoku, made this known while briefing newsmen yesterday during his maiden visit to 144 Brigade located in Asa, Ukwa West local Government Area. He said he has secured the approval of the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu to relocate to the Abia commercial nerve centre to explore how he can put in check, the menace of the pro-Biafra agitators and other violent crimes.
Fejoku also used the opportunity to deny that the military shot and killed 22 pro-Biafran agitators during their prayer session last week in Aba.
He said: “I resumed command of the 14 Brigade about four weeks ago, and within this period I have been going round my locations to familiarise myself with my men and to know the terrain.
“For now, my decision is that Aba has continued to be a hotspot, essentially because of kidnapping and other sundry crimes and the activities of members of MASSOB and IPOB.
“To that effect, I have decided, after due clearance from my boss based in Enugu, to relocate my tactical headquarters from Ohafia to Aba to see how far we can go in trying to curb this menace.
“So I wish to urge the members of the MASSOB and IPOB to rescind their decision to resort to carrying weapons, to stop acts of violence and channel their grievances to appropriate authorities using appropriate communication channels.”
The Commander said he would prefer using non-military options like dialogue to engage with the groups in order to restore peace in Abia State, noting that peace in Abia is his primary duty.
On the killing of members of pro-Biafra groups last week, Fejoku said: “We did our investigations and we can assure you that the military did not hack down members of MASSOB and IPOB.”
He said that security agencies would always intervene in any protest that turns violent, adding that the pro-Biafra groups should eschew violence to avoid being punished.
He promised to join hands with other security agencies to make Aba a safe haven for all stakeholders, especially businessmen and residents.
As part of his tactics, Fejoku said he was meeting with other security agencies to design strategies to ensure peace in Abia. He stressed that when the plans are ready, some of them would be relayed to citizens to enable them play their own part.
The Commander said he was investigating accusations that some military personnel in Aba, Isiala Ngwa and some other checkpoints in Abia were collecting money from motorists and promised to deal with anyone caught extorting citizens according to military regulations and rules.